The other day a man named Jim emailed me to say how grateful he was for ThePetCheckUp. With this home health screen, Jim was able to find a urinary imbalance in his eight-year old dog, Sammy, and get veterinary care for Sammy before the problem became serious. In his email, Jim said, “I’d be curious to know how you ever got the idea of a home health screen in the first place.” Well, I got the idea from my black cat, Oliver.

My love affair with black cats began with Oliver. Always a playful fellow, I often thought Ollie must have some pony in him, as I watched him zoom around the house. He loved to run down the stairs at full speed, leap onto a throw rug at the bottom of the stairs and sail across the floor. Evidence of his many wipeouts appeared on my newly refinished floors. Ollie made me laugh every day and taught me not to take things so seriously.

When Ollie was four years old, lab work at an annual veterinary exam detected a kidney infection. I was surprised because I thought he was perfectly healthy. He went on antibiotics and was completely cured in a couple of weeks.

I thought of myself as a caring and observant guardian to my animals, and so it was unsettling that Ollie could have a kidney infection without my noticing any changes in him. I did a little research and found that almost two thirds of all dogs and cats will have a serious illness at some time in their lives. It got me thinking.

More research turned up another disturbing fact: that a dog or cat can lose as much as 2/3 of their kidney functioning before symptoms appear! I realized that if Ollie’s kidney infection had not by chance coincided with his annual veterinary checkup, it could have become quite advanced before I noticed anything was wrong.

Everything I read emphasized that catching an illness at an early stage could make all the difference in the chances for a successful treatment. And Ollie’s veterinarian wholeheartedly agreed.

An idea came to me. What if we could use traditional urine tests at home to supplement regular veterinary exams? And not just for Ollie, but for everyone’s dogs and cats? I found that the standard urinalysis dipstick can detect imbalances that are indicators of over 12 very common illnesses. I talked with veterinarians and people who I knew to be caring pet guardians. They were enthusiastic about the concept, and I proceeded.

A fellow animal lover with a marketing background joined me. We ran focus groups and asked people: “How often do you think about your animal’s health?” I saw we were not alone in our concern for our dogs and cats when the number one answer we received was “everyday”.

I knew that testing animals at home is a new concept, and therefore people were not even looking for this product. But, those who found it were overwhelmingly supportive. Soon we were getting reports from people who used ThePetCheckUp and discovered potential imbalances, such as early stages of diabetes, kidney infections, urinary tract infections, bladder infections, and others. They were extremely grateful for the early warning ThePetCheckUp gave them—and the ability to get medical help at the most promising stage of treatment.

Sometimes we get heart-wrenching calls from people who tell stories of their animals going from what seemed to be perfect health to a life-threatening illness, almost overnight. One caller said his dog went blind from diabetes, when he’d had no idea she had it. We got another call about a cat who had been healthy and carefree a week ago, and now was fighting for his life with crystal blockage in his urinary tract.

These people wanted to know if ThePetCheckUp could have averted the extreme health problems and suffering their animals were now experiencing. There is no guarantee, of course, but if ThePetCheckUp is used monthly, as recommended, the odds are certainly high that an abnormality would have shown up on a test.

ThePetCheckUp, like any urine test, does not detect signs of every illness. While it tests for many of the most common illnesses that can affect our dogs and cats, it cannot test for heart problems, tumors, respiratory illnesses and many others. And it does not diagnose an illness. But used monthly, in addition to routine veterinary visits, it can help you know that something may be off with your pet and that he or she requires medical attention.

The length of our pet’s lives, like our own, is not guaranteed from one day to the next. One of the gifts our pets give us is showing us how to appreciate the moment. Even so, some day my pets will pass from my life. But when they do, I think I will have the peace of mind of knowing that I gave them the best care I could.

by Bev Allen

ThePetCheckUp—the at-home, early detection health screening kit for dogs and cats.

Now there is something you can do in your own home to help your dog or cat live a longer and healthier life.